I was not quite sure what to expect going into Dead Silence, I had heard such mixed reviews. But really how bad could James Wan’s follow up to Saw be? Well I actually didn’t mind this, it turned out to be rather fun! This is probably the complete opposite of Saw, I guess Whannell and Wan didn’t want to delve into the same territory with their next film. Dead Silence is about a young man Jamie (True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten) who receives a ventriloquist’s dummy anonymously one evening. On that same evening his wife his found murdered in a brutal way. Det. Lipton (Saw II’s Donnie Wahlberg) is on the case and naturally suspects Jamie. He heads back to his home town to arrange her funeral, where he comes across his estranged father Edward (Bob Gunton) and new wife Ella (Amber Valletta). He remembers a strange rhyme which is also a town legend about a ventriloquist Mary Shaw. He suspects there is something more going on, as it seems the dummy he was sent called Billy had been buried many years ago, having belonged to Mary Shaw. So what exactly is going on, and who is doing the killing?
Yes it probably does sound rather strange, and it actually is! I wasn’t too sure what this was about, just that it had dummy’s in it, and from the promo pictures and posters it looked creepy. The film itself didn’t scare me, aside from that one dummy which was creepy (I wouldn’t want that thing anywhere near me), but it did have some great atmosphere. The town where Jamie came from is quite a site, the house his father lives in looks like some historical place that hasn’t been touched in a century. Same can be said for the funeral home, it looks ancient! The film definitely has a great mood to it, but it’s also rather quirky and you really can’t take it too seriously to get any enjoyment out of it. I really liked the legend of Mary Shaw and seeing her back story was interesting as well. The idea of a ventriloquist having like a 101 dolls/dummy’s and treating them like actual children was rather disturbing in it’s own right. I certainly wouldn’t want to have anything to do with that town, it actually just felt like such a messed up and creepy place. They did a good job with all of that, some great locations and sets made it quite great to look at.
On the acting side of things, our main character of Jamie was perfectly handled by Ryan Kwanten, he’s a good actor. I thought he really made Jamie a likable guy, someone you could get behind while he tried to solve the mysteries at hand. In turn Michael Fairman was great as Henry, the funeral home director. He was the person that Jamie could turn to, someone who knew Jamie was innocent and the person who knew more then he was letting on. Donnie Wahlberg stole the show, he was great here! He seems to play Detective’s a lot but none quite like this one. Always using his electric shaver, oozing which such amazing charisma, there was no way to hate this guy. Bob Gunton was fine, his character seemed really odd and as the film progresses we find out why. Amber Vallette was untrustworthy as Ella, there was something not quite right about her, good performance. The side characters were good as well, I mean over all the performances were solid if not a little quirky at times.
I guess Dead Silence is a like it or hate it type deal, you’ll either get it or you wont. For me I got it, and I enjoyed it’s quirks and dark humor tone. I got a lot out of the creepy dummy as well as the atmosphere and awesome sets. I give props to Wan and Whannell for doing something completely different, it was a risky move as general fans of Saw were probably expecting something similar. I do think they are both talented as writers and Wan as a director, they certainly both have a lot of balls! Not a bad little afternoon’s viewing, I probably wont hurry out to see this again but I will be keeping it in my collection.